What if Superman crash landed in the Soviet Union instead of the USA? That’s the premise of the graphic novel, “Superman: Red Son,” by Mark Millar. It’s a very Interesting story with really awesome artwork. I read it recently thanks to Hoopla Digital’s wide selection of comics available through my public library.
Because he lands in the USSR, Superman (his adopted name is a State secret) is raised on a commune farm; adopted by Joseph Stalin (Man of Steel, get it?); and is a superhero who wears red and blue and a crest with a sickle and hammer on his chest – – of course!
Superman is still a nice guy who wants to do the right thing but may be misled in his approach. Who wouldn’t want to eradicate disease, poverty, and crime? Who doesn’t want the world to be better? It would be nice to have a nice guy like Superman to be absolute dictator to ensure that the world is as it was meant to. Although, it might take some convincing (reprogramming) and some strict enforcement of this harmony and order if that is what it takes. Superman doesn’t want to invade other countries like Stalin, but if really is absolutely necessary he may be willing to do so, reluctantly at 1st but having the understanding to see it through.
There are a lot of familiar characters, such as Superman’s archenemy, Lex Luthor (a capitalist who spends crazy amounts of time and money to figure out how to destroy Superman). Early in the story, his ego tripping is hilarious. Batman (terrorist? freedom fighter?) also makes an appearance with a Russian hat on his head because he has to keep that brain warm. Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Brainiac, are also it. Oh, did I mention that in this alternate universe, Lois Lane is married to Lex Luthor. Dang. Oh, and he also blew his chances with WW (because of some uncharacteristic callousness on his part). Too bad.
While it is visually engaging story, it contains lessons for those who can pick up on them. Eventually, Superman learns something… Yes, much of the world is a sterile utopia through the force of Superman’s will on the people, but at what cost? This is a graphic novel and so it is not a thorough treatment of communism, capitalism, free will, etc., even though it discusses these things – – it’s just a kind of primer. Anyway, it was interesting to read because it does not shy away from philosophical , social, and moral issues , dealing with the rights of human beings and the common good. And as an artist, I think the art is really dope, just check out the image of the cover, below. A beautiful Art Deco tribute to those 1930s Superman cartoons.
(Have not seen the recent animated movie of it yet. I might update this post after watching it.)